Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Awenydd

Again I find myself posting what other people are writing, in this case though it is important enough that it should be talked about.

Without getting into nonsense about ‘Celtic Shamans’ and other such things, the closest thing we had to an indigenous mystic in pre-Christian culture, and still have to an extent, are the awenydd. It isn't something I can see me doing, certainly not in the way Lorna is for instance; my journey is headed to a similar destination but a slightly different track.

So anyway, Lorna recently posted this piece, upon first glance it looked like a transcription into English of perhaps something from the conversation between Gwyn and Gwyddno. Then I noticed the text more closely and it became clear what it was.

As a broader community who don’t share a small space on the land as would have been the case X number of years ago, I think it is important that such matters as this get spread out and about and those of us who have some sort of relationship with the gods in question are obliged to pay attention. Were it the case that we lived in family or tribal groups still, these questions asked of us by one of our gods would have been unavoidable. Nowadays it isn't so much that we can’t avoid them, but more than it can be difficult to actually run into them.


Imagine the Old North. What can it be? Can you see it in this land, from your green hill across the marsh how the ordinary people saw it?
Can you see ravens in trees amongst the crows? Was it common enough for magpies?
Can you imagine the rumours of embittered warlords and honey-tongued bards who sung their praises? 
Can you taste weak beer or braggot? 
Do you feast on dog or wild boar?
Can you imagine living in a world where the animals speak? 
How will you learn their tongues? Will they lead you into their expanses?
Your books are filled with stories. Can you imagine the ones who got away? 
How their hearts beat on river-banks and they were pierced by spears as carrion birds circled? 
How the sleek otter swept into the depths and carried their death-cries to his young? 
Can you imagine what the ravens whispered in their thatched nest?
Can you imagine the chore of bringing peace to the battle-dead?
Where all the darkness of history wanders and I hold the spirits of Annwn back… can you imagine?

What can our poetry be? A sound, a scream, a panorama of the Old North in a beam of light?

The question that stands out to me is this; Do you feast on dog or wild boar? It is the question that asks about our place in society, where do we place ourself? Are we on the outside looking in, living in he wilder spaces and not conforming as we might be asked to. Are we living in the modern world? Are we living on the inside, looking out beyond the edge of our nice and tidy life and not really engaging with or fighting for that which is beyond the town limits.

Eating the dog is to be one of Gwyn's pack, one of the Wild hunt. Eating the boar; to be comfortable, part of the everyday. Living the comfortable modern life.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Oracle Answers

I recently had an opportunity to ask three questions of an oracle, the first two were easy to formulate, the third less so, hence it seems to be clutching somewhat.

Below are the questions, with the oracular answers and his interpretations

 1. Should I continue with future Grey Mare projects? 
6-3-5: It will be better for him who obeys.
6-5-3: Await the third harvest then return. 
2-3-1: Zeus would have made it an island had he wanted to. 
My interpretation: It looks like you're struggling with some of the details. Take a break and come back to it when you're refreshed - and this time bring others into it. You'll benefit from collaboration.
This to me seems very clear, and funnily enough was something like I was thinking about 30 minutes before reading the email of responses. I have in mind two further devotional anthologies to come after the Grey Mare on The Hill, though I am pretty sketchy on the detail and how I would want to do them. One would be on Gwyn ap Nudd and the other a more liturgical work based on the Brython material. Making them both much more collaborative would be a much better idea I agree.
 2. Am I on the right track with the 'Horse Sacrifice'? 
5-3-2: Honor Herakles as a god. 
3-6-2: Fulfill your vows to the gods. 
 6-6-4: Leave the temple, veil your heads, loose your robes, and cast behind you your great mother’s bones. 
My interpretation: You're close, but you're missing an essential detail which is more a matter of interpretation and categorization than anything else. It's important what you're doing - and because of that it's important to do it right. Make sure you have all of the ritual trappings, even if you don't fully understand why - purification in particular, both during and after, will be important. Also remember that what you are doing here is a foundation for greater things to come.
The matter of purification is what stands out here, not just the purification prior to ritual (bathing etc) but also because the sacrifice of a dog or wolf as purification was a central part of these widespread horse sacrifice rituals. This part I was having some trouble with and so was thinking of leaving that aspect out, now though I think this oracle is clear in that it needs to be incorporated somehow. The answer though is very heartening.


3. Am I seeing an actual connection between Gwyn and Mokkonos? 
5-1-3: He ran round, here and there.
3-6-2: You’ve lost your wits. 
3-5-6: If you had understood how to behave as you should have. 
4-5-6: Bacchic women acting modestly.
My interpretation: I think you got caught up in something, but it has no basis in reality. I think caution is called for - this kind of impetuousness could lead you to behave in an improper manner and forget who you are.

This also nails things on the head, my thoughts regarding a connection between Gwyn and Mokkonos can be laid to rest. I was clearly clutching and this has made me question what it was I was 'seeing' as a connection.

So onwards; the horse Sacrifice ritual is going to occupy my research for a while. perhaps it is time to go back and revisit the original sources and descriptions to get a fuller and refreshed understanding before I begin laying out plans or how it will be carried out.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Lupercalia

Yesterday, the 15th february marked the Roman festival of Lupercalia.

"The young men who were Luperci underwent a part of the ritual earlier in which the blood from the sacrificed goat and dog were mixed together, dabbed on their foreheads with a knife, and then wiped off subsequently with wool dipped in milk, signifying their transition from a lawless, wild state into a settled and civilized mode of life."


" The founders of Rome, the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, were raised by the Lupa (“she-wolf”) in the cave where this ritual took place, and in their lives after this, they were lawless hunter/raider warriors until their eventual foundation of the city."


These two passages taken from and article quoting P Sufenas Virius Lupus


After reading these and getting home from work, I dug out Dumezil's 'Mitra-Varuna' seeing as I can remember reading about the Luperci in that in relationship to two different yet complementary forms of sovereignty.


This counterpoint between the wild and outsider life and the civilised and societal life match up nicely with the Indo-European *koryos; the outsider youth contingents who have been posited are the forerunner to the Wild Hunt myths from across Europe. These *koryos have been found in a number of Indo-European derived cultures from India to Ireland and they also exist in mythic material from the same swathe of the Indo-European world.

The most relevant *koryos derived group is the Fianna of Fionn mac Cumhaill who nicely equates with our own Gwyn ap Nudd.

Now, what has also turned up I have found id that there is archaeological evidence of dog sacrifice and butchery from the Eurasia steppe which have been suggested were used as part of initiatory rites into a *koryos like group

“How are we to interpret this unique site?
Vedic texts refers to a group of sorcerers called ‘dog-priests’, Vrâtyas. They conducted a 12-day sacrificial ceremony at midwinter to heal nature and restore its vitality. In these texts the sacrificed victim was a cow. The winter-season ceremony at Krasnosamarskoe seems to have included both dogs and cattle. Several comparative mythologists  have suggested that this mid-winter sacrificial ceremony by dog- priests might be an ancient Indo-European one, reflected not just in Vedic myths, but also in the Roman Lupercalia, with its midwinter sacrifice of dogs; and the Scandinavian Twelve Nights of Christmas, originally a pagan festival during which the god Odin roars as a hunter through the forests with his dogs.”

Also mentioned is the process by which a boy is inducted into the world of the Indian equivalent of the *koryos; the Vratyas

“He studied with a teacher for 8 years, memorizing and reciting poetry among other tasks. As a mid-teenager he experienced a winter solstice ritual called the Ekastaka in which he ritually died to become a member of a roving warrior group, called the Vratyas. The midwinter ritual conveyed him to the world of his dead ancestors. He left the community of humans for four years to follow Rudra, the god of wildness and danger. Like Sigmund, he lived in the wild, painted his body black, and wore a black cape and a dog skin.”



There is a clear constellation here of the *koryos, the outsider group in society, dogs and dog sacrifice,  the Wild Hunt and also I think fertility.

The reason I am putting fertility into this comes partially from the Lupercalia rituals and also from the andedion (really nice article here ,also found on the Brython site. These are the spirits which appear to be the ‘demons of hell’ Gwyn rules over and contains, but who seem closely linked to chthonic spirits of fertility. Now, I am wondering if as the role of the *koryos diminished it became more of a mythic construct and the Koryonnos (god of the *koryos) and his Wild Hunt fulfilled the role of the original *koryos; an essential yet feared aspect to existence but essential in taking the 12 days around midwinter to chase off malign spirits and it some manner restore fertility to the land.

Will Parker's website with a very nice article on the andedion which inspired Lorna's linked articles can be found here.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Repost: Gwyn ap Nudd and the Old North

From Gwyn ap Nudd and the Old North

"Gwyn is a king of Annwn and is said to ‘contain’ (literally to hold within and to hold back) the fury of the spirits of Annwn. These are chthonic spirits, referred to today as ‘fairies, who play a role in mediating between this-world and the otherworld, the living and dead. Because of this intermediary role they have a deep concern for the land and the way we maintain our heritage. Their concerns are Gwyn’s."

Before now I haven't been one to repost from other people's blogs and point to them too much. That really need to change as there I so much good stuff being posted out there on subjects and Gods which are close to me. So go check out Lorna's blog post.


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Gwyn and Boars

This is more a question really to throw something out there that has occurred to me.

I said something in a blogasm a couple of days ago about interaction with various gods being almost seasonal; waxing and waning with the changing year, notably Rigantona 'not being there' in winter months.

My strong impression is that Gwyn of the Mists is most strongly felt and 'abroad' as it were in winter. This is the same time of year I associate with Mokkonos and in many ways they have a lot of overlap with this time of year and suggestions of influence and power. It occurred to me this might be more than incidental, though beyond the boar leading St Collen to Gwyn's Caer below Glastonbury Tor there isn't much else linking Gwyn and boars.

So Lorna and anybody else who drops by; what is your feeling on the matter of Gwyn and boars?


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Brigantica



Briganti; your flame in this house
Fill my home with your warmth
Briganti: your flame at my hearth
May it be bright for all who dwell here
Briganti: your flame in my hands
May I work well, may I sacrifice well, and may I honour the gods well.